ROBOTRONIKA - hypermatic:automagic
19 - 23 June 1998 Museumsquartier, Vienna/Austria

Stelarc, AUS

"Cyborg Systems: Alternate, Intimate And Involuntary Experiences"

In previous actions the body has performed with technology attached (the third hand), technology inserted (the stomach sculpture placed 45cm into the body) and net-connected (the body accessed and remotely activated by people in other places). The body has been augmented, invaded and now becomes a host- not only for implanted components but also for remote agents. Just as the internet provides extensive and interactive ways of displaying, linking and retrieving information and images it may now allow unexpected ways of accessing, interfacing and uploading the body itself. And instead of seeing the internet as a means of fulfilling out-moded metaphysical desires of disembodiment, it offers on the contrary, powerful individual and collective strategies for projecting body presence and extruding body awareness. The Fractal flesh, Ping Body and Parasite performances explore notions of split physiologies and phantom experiences. The internet does not hasten the disappearance of the body and the dissolution of the self- rather it generates new physical couplings and a telematic scaling of subjectivity. What becomes important is not merely the body's identity, but its connectivity- not its mobility or location, but its interface... Not merely in its biology, but in its augmentation by machine and robot systems.
A cyborg no longer is a body but rather a system- a multiplicity of bodies spatially separated, but electronically connected. And imagine bodies with exoskeleton enhancements that can perform with exquisite precision and extreme speed- at micro scales and from remote locations. It will no longer be meaningful in these operational systems to distinguish between human and machine components. With adequate feedback loops of touch and force (as well as sight and sound), a remote robot manipulator will be an end effector for the human body, generating an experience that is not merely Minsky's telepresence - you feel as if you are where the robot is - , but rather Tachi's tele-existence - for all intents and purposes you become the remote robot -...

Stelarc is a performance artist who is interested in alternate aesthetic strategies. He has used medical, robot and virtual reality systems to explore, extend and enhance the body's performance parameters. Having experimented with the limitations of the body, he has developed strategies to augment its capabilities, interfacing the body with prosthetics and computer technologies. He has performed extensively in overseas art events, including new music, dance festivals and experimental theatre.